Hood's first full-length effort embraced all the contrary impulses of the band's earlier singles work and played them up to astonishing affect, resulting in a fine if still formative listen. More than a few numbers are simply conventional indie-into-shoegaze pop of the early '90s -- itself already essentially dead by the time of recording in 1994, though the results are usually pleasant enough. It just isn't totally magical, as with the band at its best. Compared to both the wider emotional impact of Silent '88 and Rustic Houses Forlorn Valleys lengthy, restrained compositions, Cabled Linear Traction is notable for individual elements. There's the regret-tinged, melancholic singing, the short bursts of random noise experimentation in between larger songs and sometimes on them directly, the brisk nature of most compositions. There's nothing as flat out gripping as "Her Innocent Stock of Words" when it comes to the individual songs, but more than a few selections -- "Small Town Prejudice," "British Radars," "Untitled #2" -- are noteworthy. The bedroom-studio nature of the album, though not all tracks were recorded at the musicians' homes, helps unify Cabled Linear Traction thematically as well as aesthetically. There's the sense of ambient sound from around corners or through walls, murky collages like the start "An Oblique View of an Irrationally Happy Time" suggested a chaos that's actually calm or at least digestible around the edges. Meanwhile, the sheer distortion and distinctly lo-fi vocals and instruments at points will please the likes of the Sebadoh crowd, though it might be better to refer to New Zealand bands like This Kind of Punishment instead. The singing and arrangements are much less forbidding than that outfit, though, making Cabled Linear Traction the agreeable listening experience it is.
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett